National Rugby League (NRL) players have called for an end to the public broadcasting of their on-field conversations with referees. Players claim their image and that of the game is suffering after dozens of them have been caught out using foul language on live broadcasts this season.
David Peachey's expletive-littered outburst at referee Shayne Hayne was clearly heard by fans tuning in to the match between the Sharks and St George a fortnight ago. The players aired their views in a poll conducted by the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
"Most of the time things are said to the referee on the spur of the moment and they are things that just shouldn't be broadcast," Sharks prop Jason Stevens said.
The comments are aired live through pay television and radio through the recent Sports Ears innovation now that referees wear microphones. "I'm not a fan of the microphones," St George-Illawarra forward Lance Thompson said.
"There's a lot of bad language on the field and the kids pick it up, so it isn't good for the sport. While you don't mean to swear, it does pop out - we aren't saints."
"People probably enjoy listening to the action with the Sports Ears and understanding what's happening in the middle, but they also have to understand that sometimes they might hear something they don't like," Sharks captain Peachey said.
"Players get frustrated and that's where you're going to hear a few words. For the kids watching at home it's probably not right."
The players are also concerned about the standard of refereeing this season, with the NRL introducing a number of rookie referees.
Canberra captain Simon Woolford said refereeing this year was "the worst I've been associated with".
"We've been snipped a couple of times and not just by the bloke in the middle but also by the bloke (video referee) in the box. They are consistently getting calls wrong." Stevens said referees, like players, needed time to find their feet in first grade.
"Bill Harrigan has not become Bill Harrigan overnight. He has made mistakes throughout his career but they've prepared him for becoming the referee he is now."